The Supreme Court on Wednesday, rescheduled to February 11, the hearing on the Centre's plea seeking Rs 7,844 crore as additional funds from the firms succeeding US-based Union Carbide Corporation, currently owned by Dow Chemicals, to disburse as compensation to victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy.
A five-judge bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said a "different combination" of judges will conduct the hearing. On Tuesday, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, who is part of the five-judge bench, had offered to recuse himself.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench, also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, and M.R. Shah, that a full-fledged hearing on the matter may not be possible from February 11 as different benches of the apex court would be hearing the Sabarimala case and pleas against abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The bench said it will consider the matter on February 11.
On Tuesday, during the brief hearing, Justice Mishra said Justice Bhat has "some difficulty" in hearing the matter. Justice Bhat said that he had appeared for the Central government when it sought review.
The Centre is seeking a direction to Union Carbide and other firms to pay an additional amount of Rs 7,844 crore, which is over and above the earlier settlement amount of $470 million in 1989, as compensation.
Since 1984, the victims have been fighting a long and draining battle for adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused due to the gas leak.
In December 2010, the Centre had filed the curative petition in the apex court.
In June 2010, a Bhopal court had convicted seven executives of Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) and sentenced them to two years imprisonment. Warren Anderson, then UCC Chairman, was the key accused, but never appeared for the trial. In 1992, the court had declared him an absconder and twice issued non-bailable warrants him in 1992 and 2009. Anderson died in September 2014.
The toxic gas leak from the Union Carbide factory on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 killed over 3,000 people and affected 1.02 lakh more.
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